Anarchs Unbound – Library Review, Part II

Greetings Methuselahs!

At last, it is time for us to finish our journey through the new VEKN set Anarchs Unbound.  If you missed my last two articles on this topic, you can take a moment to read my review of the crypt cards and the first half of the library cards.  The only cards left to review are the discipline-less library cards!  I’ll then finish off this with a little discussion about the set as a whole.  Ok, let’s dive into these last cards!

 

Eat the Rich, Political Action

Requires an anarch.
Choose one or more Methuselahs. Successful referendum means each chosen Methuselah burns 1 pool, plus 3 additional pool if he or she controls a ready titled vampire. In this referendum, non-priscus titles are worth 1 fewer vote each, priscus titles are worth 1 less ballot each, and burning the Edge is worth 1 additional vote.

Eat-the-RichFlavor: This is a card where all the elements come together.  When I read the card titled, I instantly know that this card is going to punish either high capacity vampires (maybe a reverse Honor the Elders), or titled vampires.  The art nicely echoes this theme by having a bunch of punks taking over some fancy house, and the owner is tied up and shoved into the fireplace (which has some particularly nasty symbolism if the owner is a vampire).  The effect not only punishes titled vampires, but its a political action that is specifically difficult for titled vampires to stop.  Everything fits – excellent card.

Art: As I mentioned above, the art fits the theme extremely well, and should be praised on that basis alone!  All the figures are well done and it’s obvious that the fur coats they’re wearing aren’t theirs.  The tied up figure is a very nice and subtle touch.  The only think I’d wish is that the room looked a little more… opulent.  I don’t quite feel like they’re in the ancestral estate of an old vampire.

Power: This is effectively a variant of Neonate Breach, and while I don’t think it will ever become the major means of dealing pool damage for a deck, I think that it will be a powerful secondary tool to help anarch voting decks.  It’s also very nice that the very titled vampires you seek to harm have a more difficult time stopping it.  Its certainly doesn’t rival Reckless Agitation for power, but I like this card.

 

Propaganda of the Deed, Action Modifier

Requires an anarch. Only usable after a successful (D) action.
Put this card in play. You can burn this card during the referendum of a political action to get +2 votes.

Propaganda-of-the-DeedFlavor: Another amazing card.  The name suggests that it allows you to reap benefits from an action long after that action is completed.  And propaganda is certainly a political thing, so it comes as no surprise that the card provides votes.

Art: Great art – not only does it convey the theme fantastically (a single figure spreading the word to a huge group of followers), but I love it for stylistic reasons.  The rain and gloomy city in the background just couldn’t be more perfect.  This is a serious contender for best art of the set.

Power: This is a very interesting card, but I’m not exactly sure how good it will be.  The fact that you put this card into play (and it’s not unique!) mean that it’s very easy to cycle out of your hand, but the card requires you to be doing directed actions and political actions.  This is a card that I really want to base a deck around, just to see if it will work, but if I’m drawn to it like that, it may mean that the card isn’t all that powerful.  I suppose only time will tell, but I quite like this card, and I’m excited to experiment with it!

 

The Red Question, Action Modifier, 1 blood, Burn Option

Requires an untitled, non-anarch vampire.
Put this card on this vampire. This vampire is considered anarch (and Independent). Burn this card if this vampire changes sect.

Red-QuestionFlavor: “Why do you obey?”  That’s a fantastic question to ask in vampiric society.  It’s short, direct, and it’s one of those questions that just eats at you.  I’m very impressed by the choice of wording here.  And the card title paired with the art immediately tells you that this card is part of the anarchist recruitment machine.  Very nicely put together card.

Art: Wow, a modern looking computer in VTES?  I almost don’t know how to react given the outdated art on cards like Computer Hacking, Laptop Computer, and Camera Phone.  But in all seriousness, I like this art quite a bit, and the position of the figure’s hands indicates to me that he’s surprised and maybe a little taken aback at what just popped up on his screen.

Power: While this may not be the most powerful card in the set, I predict that it is the one that will find its way into the most anarch decks.  Historically, anarchs have had a problem with the setup required just to be able to utilize their own cards.  It’s like a normal vampire came out and needed to take an actions to get access to their disciplines.  This card (along with the new crypt cards who start as anarchs) should go a long way to solving this problem.  Now going anarch just costs a blood while you take your normal action – you don’t even need that action to be successful for this to work!  I think the inclusion of a Burn Option is also brilliant – if all your vampires are anarchs, you don’t need this anymore, so you can burn it.  Without that option, I think this card wouldn’t be played much (it would be tough to figure out how many you should included in your deck), but as is, I think it will become a staple in all anarch decks.  It also means that you can now make an anarch deck even if you don’t own Anarch Convert, which is awesome!

 

Field Training, Action, 1 blood

+1 stealth action. Requires an anarch.
Put this card on another ready, non-titled vampire you control, choose a Discipline the acting vampire has at superior and untap the acting vampire. The vampire with this card is considered anarch (and Independent), and gets +1 level of the chosen Discipline. If this vampire changes sect, burn this card. A vampire can have only one Field Training.

Field-TrainingFlavor: Another flavor home run – the name immediately tells you that we have vampire training going on, and that’s exactly what the card does.

Art: This artist clearly enjoys cyber-punk.  His art strongly reminds me of Shadowrun, which is quite cool, but I would consider it to be a non-standard view of the World of Darkness.  That having been said, I like the lighting quite a bit, and it seems clear to me that the guy in the front is the one being trained – the guy in the back is watching body language, and seems ready to offer backup or criticism.  So there is a lot of good information being presented here, it just doesn’t transport me into the World of Darkness.

Power: Make a vampire into an anarch, give them one level of any discipline (including bloodline disciplines, but not including flight, Maleficia, or Striga), and untap the acting vampire.  What’s not to love about this card?  This is certainly one of the most combo-licious cards in the set, and is probably one of the most powerful.  The only real limit is that a single vampire can only have one of these and it costs a blood.

 

Protection Racket, Reaction

Requires an anarch.
+1 intercept, with an additional +1 intercept if the acting vampire is titled.

Protection-RacketFlavor: After all those flavor successes we get this card.  For those who don’t know, a protection racket is when a gang goes to a local business and offers them unofficial protection.  Sometimes this is because there is an actual threat present (rival gangs for instance), and sometimes the threat is the gang who is being paid!  In either case, it is a money making venture and a way to establish territory.  From this description, I assumed either that the card would provide you pool (you’re getting money to protect places), or something like Guard Duty – you put the card on location and it allows you to protect that location more efficiently.  Now admittedly, Guard Duty is a super niche card that is almost never played, but an effect like that would be appropriate for the flavor of the card.  Anyway, when I finally got around to the card text, I was very surprised.  Intercept – a concept thematically linked to information gathering?  And you get more against titled vampires?  What, is the Prince of the city coming to personally smash up your protected store?  I actually like the card effect – I think it’s very thematic, but I also think this card needs a different name and theme for that effect to make sense.  This is a flavor fail for me.

Art: Damn, those anarchs are brave – sitting that close to fire that somebody could just push over onto them.  But it does provide some excellent light that the artist takes excellent advantage of.  I like the look of the make-shift barricade, the anarchs behind it, and the dark city in the distance.  Solid art!

Power: Discipline-less intercept is very difficult to come by.  There are a few options but they are severely limited either by which actions you can play it on (like Pack Tactics, Elder Intervention, and Watch Commander), or they cost blood (Legwork and Ministry).  Really, this is the only disciplineless intercept card that acts like an Auspex card (it grants 1 or 2 intercept for free), and as such I imagine that it will get played in a number of decks that are looking for casual intercept.  It likely won’t make the cut in a wall or intercept combat deck, but it should be a welcome addition to any toolbox deck that just wants to block the occasional action.

 

Carfax Abbey, Master, 2 pool

Requires a ready anarch. Unique location. Hunting ground.
During your untap phase, a ready anarch you control can gain 1 blood, and, if you control a ready baron, another ready anarch you control can gain 1 blood as well. A vampire can gain blood from only one hunting ground each turn.

Carfax-AbbeyFlavor: I had to go look up the Carfax Abbey in the World of Darkness.  Apparently it’s an old church that’s been converted into a dance club for goths in London.  It’s also the unofficial headquarters for the anarch movement in that city.  Given that information, the ability makes sense, but the art is a little out of place.  The art seems to depict a more traditional abbey, rather than a dance hall.  But I’m more than happy to give it a pass because art of a dance hall would look very out of place given the name if you hadn’t looked it up on the interwebs.

Art: I really like this one piece.  My only real lament is that it’s dark enough (and small enough) that it’s hard to catch everything that is going on, like the altar thing in the lower left hand corner with two naked women on it.  It’s super hard to see that unless you zoom really far in.

Power: Even if it was a normal hunting ground for anarch vampires, it would be playable.  The fact that you can get the effects of two hunting grounds from a single card if you have a baron in play is just awesome.  Of course, it should be noted that anarchs already have a few master cards that increase the amount of blood they get when hunting (Anarch Free Press and Hospital Food), so maybe their hunting ground needed to be a little bit better to compete.  It could also be argued that hunting grounds aren’t played all that often these days (or at least I consider them underplayed), so maybe you need to do something extra to entice people into playing it.  That having been said, I think this card is very strong.

 

Hackerspace, Master

Location.
Put this card in play with X counters, where X is the number of anarchs you control. When an anarch comes into play under your control, or when a vampire you control becomes anarch, add 1 counter to this card. When equipping an anarch, you can use the counters on this card to pay some or all of the blood or pool cost of the equipment.

HackerspaceFlavor: I’m not actually sure what this card is supposed to represent.  Is it a reference to some space on the internet (which might indicate that the card would have something to do with intercept)?  Or maybe it’s a to a physical space where anarch hackers like to hang out, like a cyber cafe or the Nosferatu warrens?  The art would indicate the latter, but I honestly don’t know what kind of effect I would expect from a card with that flavor.  I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that it would be a discount on equipment.  Maybe these anarchs have access to some sort of super cheap occult version of Amazon.com and they are saving pool by shopping online…?  And finally, I have no idea why the discount increases for every anarch you have.  Maybe the service gives you one free item per account you set up, so you just need a stream of new anarchs to start trial accounts.

Art: For all the confusion I have regarding the theme, I love the art!  Sure, those Nosferatu look like they have blue skin, but there’s a lot of blue light coming from those fluorescent lights in the background, so it doesn’t bother me at all.  The only thing that puzzles me a bit is what the guy in the back is doing – welding something? The smoke and goggles lead me to think so, but I’d expect some really bright spark.  So maybe it’s something else.

Power:  Ok, for all the crap I gave this card for it’s vague flavor/theme, I actually quite like the effect.  This card makes sure to reward you for playing as many anarchs as possible, and it even has a neat mechanic to refill itself as you continue to bring out new anarchs, so you never have to hold it in hand until the right moment.  I actually wish that In Memory of the Two Lands had a similar clause.  It’s very frustrating to hold onto that card until you manage to amass enough mummies to make it worthwhile.  I also like that the discount on this card is specifically for equipment, which means that it is more difficult to abuse the card.  We’ll have to wait and see if an equipment-heavy anarch deck develops that could really make use of this card. EDIT – It’s been pointed out to me by several people that because this card isn’t Unique and is free, it’s possible to slot several into a deck and play them without concern.  I still think that you need to make this part of your central plan to get value from it, but this does make it particularly nice in the right deck.

 

Legacy, Action, Burn Option

+2 stealth action. Requires an unmerged advanced vampire.
Untap this vampire, search your crypt (shuffle afterward), uncontrolled region and/or ash heap for his or her base version and merge him or her with it.

LegacyFlavor: A clear call back to the past.  Legacy is a perfect name for this card.  This card (or ones very much like it) has been proposed a number of times both by local players and the online community, but I don’t remember any name being as good as this one.  The art fits the theme nicely, too – anachronistic clothes and what appear to be a crypt.  Very nice fit for me.

Art: I like this art quite a bit.  Along with the other pieces that Gines has done for the set, I think it’s clear that he enjoys playing with interesting lighting, and this piece is no exception.  Very nice, and a very welcomed piece of card art.

Power: At last we come to the card that I think will have the largest impact on the game as a whole.  This card will find its way into all kinds of decks, and it gives you a reason to actually look at the merged text on advanced vampires.  The reason why I think this will be more impactful than Epiphany (which this card is clearly based off of) is because many advanced vampires are just playable versions of vampires that never see any play.  You need look no further than some of the advanced vampires in this set like Appolonius and Zack North.  Nobody wants to influence out those minions with the hope that you can use Epiphany to make them useful.  But somebody might like to start with the new advanced versions, and then use Legacy simply to gain access to the merged text.  I also love the burn option on this card.  Since most vampires in the game are basic vampires, it was always easy to cycle an extra Epiphany – just take a +2 stealth action to untap.  Unless your deck has a lot of advanced vampires, it would be considerably more difficult to cycle Legacy, and I’m sure this was major determinant in giving the card a burn option.  I’ll certainly be experimenting with this card and all that it can do!

 


Some General Thoughts:

As I only recently acquired anarch cards, I’ve never had the opportunity to make an anarch deck, but I’m certainly looking forward to doing so now!  The anarchs get a lot of interesting toys here, and Anarchs Unbound will help alleviate the set-up problems they previously suffered.  It also helps alleviate the need for Anarch Convert, which I see as a big bonus.  Over all, I think the cards were very intelligently designed.  Not that the design team did everything the way I would have done it, but that the cards seem like they are trying to shore up the anarch’s weaknesses while also releasing reasonably powered cards.  In short, this is a successful example of what I have previously referred to as the cautious card design philosophy.

Praise also needs to be extended (as I hope I have done throughout my reviews) to the artists who donated their time and creative energies to making this set a reality.  The card art is universally wonderful, and in many cases is significantly better than what White Wolf was using toward the end of the game’s print run.  Sincere thanks go out to all who donated art!

So, now that the well deserved praise is out of the way, I should say that I really wish that the theme of bonuses against titled vampires was more prevalent in this set.  I think that it is a fantastic thematic concept for the anarchs, and its a very cool and unexplored idea in the game.  It also helps make the anarchs feel unique.  At present, the game suffers from having little to no mechanical identity behind the sects.  Camarilla get all the toys originally designed for titled vampires in general.  Sabbat get… what… some untap, intercept against D actions, and blood gain…?  Independent vampires get… Reckless Agitation and Banner of Neutrality?  This really puts the emphasis of the game on disciplines, meaning that you end up with Sabbat and Camarilla vampires fighting side by side, which I view as a thematic fail of the game, but I know that I’m in the minority there.  Anyway, while I think a lot of these anarch cards are powerful and interesting, the anarch mechanic continues to have very little central flavor other than “get access to flexible three-way cards that others can’t use” and “get superior discipline effects at inferior” neither of which are very compelling to me as a theme player.

Anarch DisciplinesAlso of interest are the disciplines present on the anarch 3 way cards.  Prior to the release of Anarchs Unbound, nearly all non-bloodline discipline were represented by 4 different 3-way anarch cards.  The only outliers being Animalism (with 5), Necromancy, and Serpentis (both with 3).  This had the advantage of allowing every clan to theoretically play with the anarch mechanic, but also made it feel very generic.  The design team for Anarchs Unbound have clearly chosen to break with tradition and instead focus on specific disciplines over others.  The chart above shows the number of cards in Anarch Unbound for each discipline in red, and the number is all previous expansions in blue.  It’s clear that the core anarch disciplines are now Animalism and Celerity.  I think this is a good decision from a thematic and mechanical standpoint.  I also love that Dominate got nothing in this set!  Honestly, the only thing about this chart that surprises me is the number of cards made for clan-specific disciplines like Chimestry and Dementation.

 


For now that’s all I have to say about Anarchs Unbound.  But keep in mind that everything I’ve written here is really nothing more than my first impressions.  I greatly look forward to trying out these cards in the months to come.  If any of those decks are successful (or wacky) enough, they’ll likely end up on this blog.  Finally, if you want to ready somebody else’s view on these cards, you should check out the excellent review written on VTES ONE.  Next week, I’ll return to those articles that got shunted aside for the release of Anarchs Unbound, including the completion of the first wave of my demo decks, and a careful look at the Nosferatu Antitribu.  Stay tuned for all that and more!

Until then, may your vampires all go anarch and be untroubled by the wrath of the Camarilla,

Brett

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